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How countless NYC blocks space there in a mile? It counts on i beg your pardon direction you’re going. (Thomas Richter/EyeEm/Getty Images)


On average, brand-new Yorkers walk more miles per day — and also walk them faster—than anyone else in the country. We can’t assist it. We’ve got long highways (which in Manhattan run east-west) and also long methods (which operation north-south). Yet how countless NYC blocks room in a mile?

The average size of a north-south block in Manhattan runs approximately 264 feet, which way there are about 20 blocks per mile.

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But what about the lengths of the blocks in between avenues? no so reliable. Usually speaking, the street between avenues is roughly 750 feet, which method about 7 east-west blocks every mile. Yet there’s some severe variance.

If we’re talking about the area stretching from Houston Street come 155th Street, i m sorry is the official area that Manhattan’s street grid, then these are your numbers:

The street between an initial and second avenues is 650 feet, while the between 2nd and third Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between third and Sixth methods ratchet approximately 920 feet. And also finally, block length between Sixth and also Twelfth methods is 800 feet.

How perform we account because that the variability? Look come the times. Once the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811 (more ~ above this later) laid out a proposal because that the now-famous gridiron the Manhattan, sector looked fairly a little bit different. Follow to the “Encyclopedia of new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and also East flow waterfronts were constructed closer with each other in anticipation that increased advance — much more opportunities for water-adjacent property. Opportunities were designated lengthy and broad to do room for vehicles like the omnibus, or horse-bus — an old-school, horse-drawn kind of massive transit.

The dimension of Manhattan Blocks was Determined earlier in 1811

It all goes earlier to the Commissioners’ Plan.

Around 1800, the common Council of brand-new York — “City Council” this days — surveyed lower Manhattan and also decided the its anarchic layout, organically forged through animal paths and also the whims that wanderings, might use part regulation. Lock soon forced that any new streets receive approval, and also levied fees from home owners to maintain their local streets.

But together NYC grew, contending viewpoints top top furthering breakthrough logjammed any kind of progress, and the city turned to the state legislature because that aid. What it acquired was a board of directors imbued through “exclusive power to lay out streets, roads, and also public squares… many conducive come public good.”

Years that surveying commenced. What the commission landed on was therefore tried-and-true that the old Egyptians had actually relied ~ above it: the gridiron.

How the NYC Street Grid came to Be

The rectangular grid might not be sexy, but it certain works. The plan — the Commissioners’ plan of 1811, the is — to be simple:

Straight streets and avenues should intersect at best angles. There to be to be 12 north-south avenues, and also as numerous numbered cross roadways as needed. The grid would be tilted 29 degrees east of true north, come account because that Manhattan’s angling.


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Map that the Commissioners’ setup of 1811. (Click to enlarge.)


Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which run 60 feet wide, particular crosstown highways were given increased width to serve as thoroughfares. Their numbers won’t be surprising: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 106th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, and also 155th streets room each 100 feet wide. (Nowadays, 106th, 110th, and also 116th highways run 100 feet broad in part places and also 60 feet in others.)

To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble markers were inserted at every intersection. And though the process faced vandalism by disgruntled home owners, consistent legal bickering, and also environmental obstacles, the city got built. It take it 60 years because that the grid to reach 155th Street, but it finally did.

The Longest and also Shortest NYC Blocks

As because that the longest NYC block? Take her pick, as long as it’s in between Fifth and Sixth avenues, whereby block size runs approximately 920 feet.

And the shortest? the a toss-up: Edgar Street between Trinity Place and also Greenwich Street, approximately the edge from the brand-new York stock Exchange, is 64 feet long. Around as quick is Mill Lane between South wilhelm Street and stone Street, eastern of Bowling Green, which is so brief it boasts no addresses.

Is the Manhattan Street Grid autonomous or Ugly?

If over there is a sort of beautiful pragmatism to Manhattan’s grid, climate that’s the only beautiful thing around it. At the very least that at first seemed to be the consensus.

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Marguerite Holloway, in she biography of man Randel Jr., the grid’s designer, points the end that at its inception, the network was produced to illustrate the idea that the “government ought not to plot in such a way as to produce inequality of one-of-a-kind privilege.” The network is the every-person’s shape. It’s democratic.

The artist disagreed. Walt Whitman said Manhattan’s roads were “the last point in the people consistent through beauty that situation.” Edith Wharton called it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of median ugliness.” Henry James lamented the the arrangement didn’t capitalize ~ above Manhattan’s natural topography, speak it to be “the uncollected labor of minds v no creativity of the future and also blind prior to the opportunity offered them through their two magnificent waterfronts.”

Even philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the numerical anonymity the streets and also avenues, i am merely anyone, anywhere, since one location is so like another. Ns am never astray, but constantly lost.”

Today, of course, brand-new Yorkers and visitors alike storage the grid because that being simple to navigate. And also some large thinkers did view a worthy target in the imposition that order. “ not to do the city into a huge an equipment and man into an automaton,” created French critic and philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to understand the distances and also orientations by the mental … that each individual need to be poetically the owner that the resources of the world.”—Hey, why not favor lifwynnfoundation.org top top Facebook and also follow